Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter found in the brain. It helps control movement, energy and alertness, according to ADHD expert Beth Ann Hill in her book, "The AD/HD Book," and may impact a variety of factors in life, including tendencies toward ADHD, depression and weight gain. Regulation of dopamine plays a crucial role in mental and physical health. It is not uncommon to have low levels of dopamine, which can affect overall health and well-being. Certain foods are purported to help increase levels, such as turkey, fish and potatoes, but there are also specific supplements that are linked to dopamine production. Be sure to work closely with your doctor to determine which supplements, if any, are right for you.
One supplement that is purported to help in increasing dopamine levels is the amino acid L-theanine. This is due to its ability to cross the brain barrier and directly impact dopamine, according to Dr. Uzzi Reiss in his book, "The Natural Superwoman." L-theanine is found in green tea, but it must be supplemented in order to provide the levels needed, notes Reiss. He recommends taking 100 to 600 mg daily, with or without food. Reduce levels if you feel sleepy.
Another supplement that may help with increasing dopamine levels is fish oil. Reiss states that fish oil, and in particular, the DHA found in fish oil, causes dopamine receptors to become more sensitive, increasing the ability of dopamine and serotonin to bind their receptors. This helps reduce levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that can be agitating. Due to the impact of mercury in fish, supplements are sometimes a wiser choice, especially if pregnant. Reiss recommends 1,000 to 2,000 mg twice daily.
Tyrosine is also noted to impact dopamine levels. In his book, "Natural Sex Boosters," Dr. Ray Sahelian states that tyrosine is one amino acid that is converted into dopamine in the body. From there, dopamine is first converted into norepinephrine and then epinephrine. Mood is elevated and alertness occurs due to tyrosine's effect on dopamine levels. Be sure not to ingest too much tyrosine, though, as high amounts can cause high blood pressure, increased heart rate, anxiety or insomnia.
Phoshatidylserine, a phospholipid found in cell membranes, may also help increase dopamine levels in the body. Making up about 70 percent of nerve tissue mass, phoshatidylserine aids in the storage, release and activity of many neurotransmitters and their receptors, according to immunohematology expert Elaine A. Moore in her book, "The Amphetamine Debate." In particular, it stimulates the release of dopamine, helping to improve learning and memory related to daily living. Moore recommends 300 mg daily.
- "The Natural Superwoman"; Uzzi Reiss, MD; 2008
- "Natural Sex Boosters"; Ray Sahelian, MD; 2004
- "The Amphetamine Debate"; Elaine A. Moore; 2010
- "The AD/HD Book"; Beth Ann Hill; 2005
- University of Texas; Dopamine - A Sample Neurotransmitter